I think I feel settled enough on 11’s design to actually start tagging images of her with her name. Woo, doubt anyone noticed I wasn’t tagging the bees with their names.

Basically I’ve always wanted her to look like she had permanent bedhead and it’s kind of hard to do that in a species that are ALL covered in unruly fluff.

I was thinking about body language related to speech and hearing and how that’d play out in Melliferians, who have their speech and hearing organs in different places (their speech broadcasts out of their chests, they hear with their arms).

I used my own art to make a collage!

No, I don’t know why.

(he probably just likes the hat)

I decided it’d be fun to add more color variation between individuals, partly inspired by a picture I saw recently of various paper wasp faces, an image that went along with an article describing how scientists now know wasps can recognize faces (check it out). Melliferian bees are partly based on the European paper wasp, but the images were of northern paper wasps, which have more variation in coloration, unlike the wasps I’d looked at before which had simple but stark black markings on their faces.

And if you’re wondering why I’d base my bees partly on wasps, I’ll explain a bit. This article goes a long way to explaining what I’d already noticed as an artist, which is that wasps have highly individual faces while bees don’t so much. I already knew that European paper wasps have dominance structures that coincide with their black face splotches, but at the time it wasn’t known if the wasps were doing that on purpose or if low/no markings just happened to occur in individuals with less of whatever helps a wasp dominate others in her nest.

It’s just a personal hypothesis, but I think bees are more uniform in appearance because they don’t have these social dominance power plays, so differentiating individuals wouldn’t be necessary - plus they do most of their social interaction in the dark, inside their hive, while paper wasps hang out on top of their nest, able to clearly see each other.

I’m driven to make Melliferians function in some ways that humans can recognize and understand in my visual art, and interacting in a highly visual environment, reading faces and body language fits the bill. Bees almost universally don’t function this way, so rather than slotting in traits straight from humanity and calling it a day, I went looking in nearby species. Which is why I sometimes look to wasps for inspiration.

170106AR showing 112358AR some bit of paper from her collection. 17 is a librarian for Amber Rust, collecting written material both from the hive itself and pieces of human written material she’s been able to procure. 11 often asks her for information - when she worked in a higher station in the hive hierarchy, she did so to make informed decisions, but now she still comes to her just to satisfy her own curiosity.

Another couple Melliferian face guard concepts.

The left one uses scavanged plastic from something like a soda bottle. pros: better vision, unencumbered antennae making it easier to orient themselves in flight (that’s something bees use their antennae for) cons: plastic can be pierced, the antennae are vulnerable, may not be able to get to human garbage to find and cart home soda bottles if shit’s going down.

The right is a concept for a queen’s face plate - specifically, Blood Gold (which is why one eye has no slits). I don’t know if such a contraption would be necessary, since the queen would have a lot of workers rushing to protect her. Maybe it’s just for show.

In Eskiworks' stream the discussion turned to women in reasonable armor, and I said how I wished I had a setting that would justify designing armor, and she said, hey, what about the bees?

So here’s some Melliferian armor. Though maybe the mask is the only thing that really counts strictly as armor. Melliferians’ exoskeletons are basically already armor as it is, so about the only part of the body that benefited from something hard to protect it is their eyes. Everything else is just loose fabric.

The idea being, Melliferians primarily need to defend themselves from being stung, and the part of their bodies most vulnerable to stinging is their joints. So to preserve as much mobility as possible, they protect themselves with fabric simply to make it harder to FIND their joints, let alone get a sting through without losing purchase when the fabric moves.

The abdomen is left unadorned, as I couldn’t think of anything to protect it that wasn’t more trouble than it’s worth. It needs to have freedom of movement to sting, and the spiracles have to be uncovered so they can breathe. Which is just as well, since their abdomen plates overlap each other anyway.

The mask here would be made of propolis and the cloth of spider silk.

I made a bee shrine. =B

The quote inside the lid says “The artist, then, is sipping from the flowers of life and is offering us the sweetest thing it is possible to imagine: the honey of creation.” - Juan Antonio Ramirez

Really quickly drawn further explorations of depicting pheromones visually.

The top one is Nasonov’s pheromone, a pheromone bees use to orient each other. When bees settle down into a new hive, the first ones to get there release this pheromone which helps to draw the rest to the right place more quickly.

The other three were an attempt to depict the transition from queen substance being the dominant scent (so just a normal day in the hive) to mandibular alarm (under attack!) to mandibular alarm and spots of sting alarm (we’re attacking you!) - because I was personally curious if it’d work visually.